Monday, March 20, 2023

‘Compartment No. 6’ to Open Haugesund’s Hybrid New Nordic Films 2021

After the Viking conquest at July’s Cannes Festival, where Norway (“The Worst Person in the World”), Finland (“Compartment No. 6”) and Iceland (“Lamb”) collected kudos, more than 60 possible gems from the North are to be unveiled at the hybrid market New Nordic Films which will unspool over Aug. 24-27.

Scandinavia’s major film showcase, New Nordic Films runs parallel to Haugesund’s Norwegian Intl. Film Festival, which takes place Aug. 21-27.

Sony Pictures Classics’ Finnish pick-up “Compartment No. 6”, a Grand Jury Prize co-winner in Cannes, is set to kick-start the annual event and lead the pack of 24-plus finished titles. Most pics will screen online only, except those bowing in Haugesund cinemas as well, as fest official selections, such as “The Innocents,” “The Gravedigger’s Wife,” “Margrete-Queen of the North,” and “a-ha-The Movie.”

“It’s been a bit hard to finalize the market screenings, due to social distancing measures still in place in cinemas, restricting screen capacity, and producers/sales agents juggling with launch strategies for their films, due to the pandemic. But after more than a year of digital activity, sellers seem to be much more positive about holding online screenings,” said Gyda Velvin Myklebust, the Nordic film confab’s managing director.

The biggest challenge, however, for her, has been finalizing the lineup of 17 pics in post for the NNF’s works in progress section in a market flooded by completed or near-completed pics, waiting for release. “It’s been a struggle, finding good works in progress, still in post-production, as many submissions were actually ready to screen,” Myklebust admits.

Commercially-oriented titles to be pitched by their respective filmmakers and/or producers include Erik Poppe’s take on Vilhelm Moberg’s classic “The Emigrants,” Aku Louhimies’ actioner “Omerta ½,” both repped by REinvent International Sales, as well as Tuva Novotny’s “Diorama,” in which the actor-turned director questions togetherness and monogamy. Headlining the cast of the Nordisk Film production is Pia Tjelta, crowned best actress at San Sebastian 2018 for Novotny’s “Blind Spot.” TrustNordisk is selling.

New female talents to watch out for include Swedish-born Lovisa Sirén, a former Sundance short film winner, who is set to pitch her feature debut “Sagres”. The European road movie, in which two sisters and a teenage daughter rediscover family values, is sold by Totem Films.

“Baby Pyramid” weighs in as a psycho thriller from Denmark’s Cecilie Mc Nair, winner of a young director award with Cannes-Best Student Film “Petit a.” Danica Curcic (“Equinox”) stars as a fertility doctor struggling with her own infertility. Nordisk Film’s Matilda Appelin (“A Perfectly Normal Family”) is producing.

Other projects to watch out for include “The Good Driver,” the fiction debut of award-winning Finnish-Bulgarian doc specialist Tonislav Hristov. The thematic sequel to the director’s Sundance-nominated doc “The Good Postman,” produced by Making Movies (“The Fencer”) is still open for sales, as most works in progress.

Unlike in previous years, the €50,000 ($58,500) Eurimages Lab Project Award won’t be available to the works in progress’ most experimental projects, following the Council of Europe’s decision to suspend the initiative in its current form. The only competition section at the market this year will be the Nordic Co-Pro Market, where 19 titles in development will be vying for a best project award and participation at the Producers Network in Cannes.

Anticipated titles include “Stranger” by Danish first-time filmmaker Mads Hedegaard, tagged by production house Motor as “Apocalypto” meets “The Revenant,” to be filmed by Hedegaard with “his poetic and larger-than life storytelling trademark,” as Hedegaard explained to Variety. The drama is co-produced by Poland’s Opus Film (“Cold War”).

Crystal Bear winner Selma Vilhunen (“Stupid Young Heart”) will be introducing her latest Finnish feature “Four Little Adults,” Kaatja Gauriloff, also from Finland, will present the female-led drama “Je’ Vida,” the first film spoken in Skolt Sámi; Denmark’s Jeppe Rønde, a triple Tribeca winner with “Bridgend” (2015), will pitch the drama “Acts of Love,” set in a religious community.

Quizzed about trends, Myklebust says “projects are perhaps smaller in scope, and many tackle existential issues or relationships, possibly due to COVID-19.”

Attendance-wise, the head of the Nordic mini-market confirmed strong numbers, already on par with pre-pandemic levels, with more than 176 on-site participants -against 70 in 2020-and more than 110 online industry guests, with final numbers to be most probably equally split online and on-site.

Sales agents are out in force, with 14 sellers expected in Haugesund -including Totem Films, Wild Bunch, Les Films du Losange, Reinvent, TrustNordisk-and at least 16 companies registered online.
 Although travel restrictions for non-E.U. citizens entering Norway and some countries’ own strict COVID rules have reduced New Nordic Film international guest list to EU participants, Myklebust says digital facilities have widened the confab’s global reach. “We can see that we have more Asiatic distributors and many more US programmers beyond the regular Sundance, Tribeca reps, with Palm Springs, Chicago, San Francisco also set to hook up online.

Ultimately, the Nordic market’s honcho feels hybrid events are here to stay. “I think that in the future, we’ll continue to meet face to face but perhaps not as often, and in parallel, we’ll meet virtually. To be a sustainable industry, we need to have both and adapt to the new normal. COVID-19 has just pushed forward changes that were in the making,” she concludes.

Full Lineup of the New Nordic Films’ Works in Progress:

-“Baby Pyramid” by Cecilie MacNair, Denmark
-“Bubble” by Aleksi Salmenperä, Finland
-“Chrysanthemum” by Christian Bengtson, Denmark
-“Diorama” by Tuva Novotny, Sweden
-“Locals” by Måns Nyman, Sweden
-“Omerta ½” by Aku Louhimies, Finland
-“Sagres” by Lovisa Sirén, Sweden
-“So Damn Easy Going” by Christoffer Sandler, Sweden
-“Sous les pavés! La plage” by Henrik Hellström, Sweden
-“The Cat Kingdom” by John Hellberg, Sweden
-“The Emigrants” by Erik Poppe, Sweden
-“The Good Driver” by Tonislav Hristov, Finland/Bulgaria
-“The Mushroom Trip” by JP Silli, Finland
-“The Store” (WT) by Hanna Sköld, Sweden
-“The Wait” by Aku Louhimies, Finland
-“Thomas in the Multiverse” (WT) by Jakob Rørvik, Norway
-“To Practice” by Laurens Perol, Norway


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